Israeli Cabinet declassifies documents on alleged kidnapping of Yemenite children


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Cabinet of Israel unanimously agreed to declassify more than 400,000 documents dealing with hundreds of Yemenite children who disappeared from Israeli hospitals in the 1950s.

Some 15 years ago, a state commission of inquiry into the accusations sealed many of the documents for 70 years. The Cabinet on Sunday overturned the decision.

The families believe the children were given to Ashkenazi families in Israel and abroad for adoption. Over 1,000 families, mostly Yemenite, have made such claims.

The parents were told that the newborn or young children had died, though they never received proof, such as the child’s body.

Several government commissions determined that most of the children had died in the hospital.

The Cabinet’s decision will be considered by the Knesset Constitution Law and Justice Committee, which must make the final approval.

Likud lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi, who investigated the closing of the documents at the direction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called the Cabinet’s decision to make the documents public important.

“Today’s decision will not eliminate the pain and suffering that thousands of immigrants have endured,” Hanegbi said Sunday at the Cabinet meeting. “Brothers, sisters and families live with the feeling of their children gone for many decades.”

The decision, he said, “will put an end to the suspicion, skepticism and mistrust towards the state agencies by the families.”

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